Thursday, 13 January 2011


I'm reading a fantastic book at the moment, called Peregrine by J A Baker, which was recently republished and which Jenny gave me for Christmas.  It was written in the 1960's I think and condenses about 10 years of watching peregrines into a single year's diary, and honestly, it's like poetry spread across the page.  Some of the imagery is just stunning, so I pulled a few paragraphs out and I offer them to you here.  (OK, I'll fess up:  last night while out for dinner I was raving about the writing, so promised to email a few paragraphs to our friends, then decided I'd post them here, too!)  I didn't spend long ferreting, just pulled out a few paragraphs, and you have to be aware that most of the book is just like this.

A cock blackbird, yellow-billed, stared with bulging crocus eye, like a small mad puritan with a banana in his mouth.

An iridescence of duck's heads smouldered in foaming blue water: teal brown and green, with a nap like velvet; widgeon copper-red, blazoned with a crest of chrome; mallard deep green in shadow but in the sun luminous, seething up through turquoise, to palest burning blue.  A cock bullfinch, alighting on a post against the water, seemed suddenly to flame there, like a winged firework hissing up to glory.

At one o'clock the sky above the river darkened from the east, and volleys of arrowed starlings hissed overhead.  Behind them, and higher, came a heavy bombardment of woodpigeons and lapwings.  A thousand birds strained forward together as though they did not dare to look back.  The dull sky domed white with spiralling gulls.

High tide was at three o'clock, lifting along the southern shore of the estuary.  Snipe shuddered from the dykes.  White glinting water welling in, mouthing the stones of the sea-wall.  Moored boats pecking at the water.  Dark red glasswort shining like drowned blood.

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